Canada Celebrates the International Year of Co-operatives

GUELPH, ON, Jan. 12, 2012 /CNW/ - Today is the official Canadian launch of the International Year of Co-operatives. The Co-operators is celebrating along with thousands of supporters of the co-operative and credit union sector in every corner of the country. A national event in Ottawa is being linked via live webcast to regional launches stretching from St. John's, Newfoundland to Vancouver, British Columbia to Iqaluit, Nunavut.

The United Nations proclaimed 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives in recognition of the contributions the sector makes to social and economic development around the world. This is reflected in the theme Co-operative Enterprises Build a Better World.

Kathy Bardswick, President and CEO of The Co-operators, one of Canada's largest financial co-operatives, and Canadian representative on the Board of Directors of the International Co-operative Alliance, addressed the national webcast from Calgary. Calling co-operatives a "values-based alternative," she said, "in this era, when so many people are dissatisfied with an economic system dominated by profit-driven enterprises, the time has never been better for the promotion and growth of the co-op model."

The Co-operators has contributed $150,000 to the Canadian Co-operative Association to support activities throughout the year. An International Year of Co-operatives flag-raising ceremony is taking place at The Co-operators head office in Guelph, Ontario, where the standard will fly for the duration of 2012. Celebrations are also being held at more than a dozen other Co-operators locations across the country.

A co-operative is an organization owned by its members, who use its services. Co-ops are democratically controlled on the basis of one member/one vote, as opposed to the common shareholder principle of one share/one vote. This ensures that the enterprise is responsive to the people who comprise its membership, rather than to investors whose interest is limited to maximizing profit.

Co-operatives in Canada date back 150 years, and today operate in virtually every sector of the economy. There are more than 9,000 co-operatives in Canada with a combined $370 billion in assets, providing employment to 155,000 people.

To watch today's live webcast at 12:30 EST, visit http://s.coop/canada2012live.  And for more information about the sector and the International Year of Co-operatives, please visit www.canada2012.coop.

About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators Group Limited is a Canadian-owned co-operative with more than $41 billion in assets under administration. Through its group of companies it offers home, auto, life, group, travel, commercial and farm insurance, as well as investment products. The Co-operators is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. The Co-operators is ranked #1 among the 50 Best Corporate Citizens in Canada by Corporate Knights, and listed among the 50 Best Employers in Canada. As a proud member and supporter of the co-operative sector, The Co-operators is pleased to celebrate 2012: The International Year of Co-operatives. For more information visit www.cooperators.ca.

SOURCE The Co-operators

For further information:

Leonard Sharman
The Co-operators
519-767-3937


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